United Latinos


More Than One Dozen El Super Grocery Workers and Supporters Arrested During Nonviolent Civil Disobedience and Candlelight Vigil

—Protestors Take Over Busy “Five Points” Intersection in East LA in Defiance of LAPD “Order to Disperse”—

MEDIA 5 MEDIA 4East Los Angeles, California— On Wednesday, November 18, more than five hundred El Super workers, labor, community and clergy leaders staged a nonviolent civil disobedience and candlelight vigil at the busy “Five Points” intersection near El Super’s East LA location.

Protestors took to the streets for the second time in less than a month to ratchet up the pressure on El Super grocery stores decision-makers on the eve of scheduled contract negotiations. More than a dozen protestors were arrested after forming a prayer circle in the center of Cesar E. Chavez Ave. after LAPD issued an order to disperse.El Super #17 cashier Flora Castaneda was among the protestors arrested. She said: “Change demands that people like me must stand up. I don’t want to get arrested, but if we don’t stand up for ourselves, everything will stay the same.” Castaneda, a single mother of three children, has worked at El Super for more than eleven years.

Castaneda is one of approximately 600 UFCW union members who work for the El Super chain. For over two years, she and her unionized co-workers have been seeking an agreement with El Super that ensures a 40-hour guarantee for full-time workers, adequate paid sick leave, seniority protections, fair wages, affordable health benefits, the right to organize without retaliation, and respect in the workplace.

Last July, El Super entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Government to resolve the National Labor Relations Board’s allegation that it violated workers’ federally protected labor rights. It agreed to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with UFCW. MEDIA 6

However, since returning to the negotiations with UFCW on August 18, after more than a year of stalling, El Super hasn’t made a significant progress towards an acceptable deal. They have agreed to negotiate a total of five days, over four months. Indeed, El Super has even failed to meet its legal obligation to provide information necessary to bargaining.

Grupo Commercial Chedraui is Mexico’s third largest retailer. Chedraui operates over 200 markets in Mexico, and 52 El Super stores in the U.S. In 2014, it earned nine-figure profits. Yet, Chedraui’s largely immigrant workforce in the U.S. toils in jobs that undermine basic industry labor standards. MEDIA 3

A multinational coalition filed complaints Nov. 12 with the federal government alleging Chedraui is violating the North American Free Trade Agreement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines by engaging in alleged “workers’ rights abuses” in the U.S. and Mexico.

The NAFTA-related complaint against Chedraui Commercial Group was filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers in California, Frente Autentico del Trabajo, in Mexico, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, in California, and the Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research, a Mexico and U.S.-based NGO focused in Latin America.

Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, spoke during the rally preceding the nonviolent civil disobedience. “I am so proud to stand here in solidarity with El Super workers and my fellow leaders in this community as we protest El Super’s shamefully irresponsible approach to doing business in our communities” said Ms. Brenes.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike

via Union Plus

via Union Plus

This year, Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Delano Grape Strike, and provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to two great labor leaders who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and helped to organize one of the most successful strikes in labor history—Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

On September 8, 1965, Filipino farm workers in Delano, Calif., who were members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), walked off the job at table grape farms in the area to protest the low pay and poor working conditions.  The leaders of AWOC knew that a successful strike had to include the many Latino farm workers in Delano, and they reached out to Chavez, Huerta and the NFWA to join them in their fight for dignity and respect on the job. Chavez insisted that the Filipino and Latino strikers work together and take a vow to remain nonviolent, and expanded the goals of the strikers to include the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining.  Realizing their common goals, the NFWA and AWOC merged to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee in 1966.

In 1966, Chavez led a strike of California grape workers on a 300 mile march from Delano to Sacramento to raise awareness for their cause.  Soon, the strike spread to thousands of workers and the movement gained national attention and support from around the country, including the support of Robert F. Kennedy.  In 1967, Chavez shifted his focus and urged consumers and supermarket chains to boycott table grapes.  In response to the plight of the farm workers, Americans throughout the country refrained from buying table grapes in a show of support.  After five years of nonviolent strikes, boycotts, marches and fasts, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with table grape growers in California in 1970—resulting in better pay, benefits and workplace conditions for thousands of farm workers.

In 1972, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee was accepted into the AFL-CIO and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union. A year later in 1973, Chavez and Huerta led another successful consumer boycott against California grape growers that resulted in the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which allowed farm workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and working conditions.


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Local 770 Member Lydia Flores Fighting for Justice at El Super

Originally posted by the AFL-CIO

Worker Stories: Lydia Flores

On Oct. 7, the White House is holding a summit with leaders in the various movements to improve the lives of working people across the country, with a focus on how to make sure that economic growth is broad-based and that workers share in the benefits they help create with their labor. Until the summit begins, we’ll be highlighting the stories of workers and their struggles to make sure their voices are heard on the job.

Today, we take a look at Lydia Flores.

Flores is a 37-year-old single mother of three who works as a cashier at union El Super market in Arleta, Calif. She and her co-workers have been fighting for a new contract for more than two years in the face of a campaign by the company to undermine the workers’ desires for fair working conditions and a voice on the job.

 Currently, she makes $12.88 per hour after 11 years at the company. The low wages and the lack of sufficient hours keep Flores in a constant struggle to pay her bills:

I pay the mortgage and my car and my utilities—and the rest of the bills have to wait. Sometimes I work 32, 36 hours. The 40 hours are not guaranteed.

When Flores speaks up about anything at work, she says that she is met with hostility and disdain. Other workers at El Super have made similar complaints.

Flores says the workers want more:

We want more respect and enough hours to support our families. If we had a contract, they would respect the 40 hours, and we would not have to be fearful about raising concerns about the company’s failure to follow the rules

Flores knows that coming together with her co-workers can make positive change. She is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, a shop steward and a member of the union’s bargaining committee.

El Super employs low‐wage and predominantly Latino workers. The workers at the union stores were covered under a contract with El Super that expired on Sept. 27, 2013. For more than a year, the unions and the worker bargaining team sought to bargain to improve their working conditions. In September 2013, El Super imposed what it called its “last, best and final” offer, which did not address the workers’ concerns and provided for less paid sick leave than is currently mandated by California state law. On Dec. 12, 2014, El Super workers voted resoundingly to recertify the union and demanded the company return to the bargaining table, a request which El Super rejected. El Super employees and the UFCW launched a boycott in December 2014 to protest the company’s actions. The union’s boycott lines have turned away more than 100,000 prospective El Super shoppers. In the face of the boycott and after the NLRB issued complaint and sought a 10(j) injunction in federal court regarding the company’s unlawful refusal to bargain, the company agreed to return to the table. El Super recently agreed to bargain for the first time in more than a year.

Flores and her fellow workers aren’t making outrageous demands, especially in light of the fact they are owned by a billion-dollar business:

“What we’re trying to do with our consumer boycott of El Super is trying to get something better for our families. We just want the company to hear us, we want them to come and negotiate and give us what is fair. We’re asking for better wages, regular schedules and hours to support our families and respect, that’s what we want.”

About El Super

El Super is managed by the Paramount, Calif.-based Bodega Latina Corp. There are 50 El Super locations in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Bodega Latina Corp. is 81.4% owned by Mexico-based Grupo Commercial Chedraui (Chedraui). Chedraui operates 211 markets in Mexico. It is Mexico’s third-largest retailer.

In January 2013, Forbes estimated the personal wealth of Chedraui’s chairman of the board, Alfredo Chedraui Obeso, at more than $1 billion. That year the company made $5.1 billion in revenue. The El Super stores make up more than 20% of Grupo Chedraui’s income.